A black cylinder that screws to the end of any gun, from pistol to massive rifle, and reduces the bang to a soft "fwip" that nobody will hear. This sound is an example of The Coconut Effect. Roger Ebert likened it to a cat sneezing.
It's the Rule of Cool: the smooth assassin can make his hit, then melt into the night with nary a sound.
The idea of the Hollywood Silencer is so prevalent that real silencers were commercially rebranded as "suppressors" in the 1970s to emphasize they do not make weapons completely silent, merely lower in volume and harder to directionally-locate; a suppressed gunshot still sounds like a gunshot, just more diffuse and easier to mistake for something else in an otherwise noisy environment. Shooting off a "silenced" pistol in a barracks filled with sleeping goons, for example, would still be unlikely to turn out well for the hero.
Spotting a silenced revolver is a definite sign that the work is not gunning for realism.note There is a gap between barrel and cylinder: real ones make a loud noise even with a silencer on the front. Some revolvers can be suppressed because the gap is sealed when firing but this can not be achieved through just a do-hicky on the barrel. Please see Useful Notes On Silencers for more on how they actually do work.
Used straight in the anime, as a rare exception to otherwise showing their work with recordings of the exact weapons shown. Rather excusable, as the gun in question was the extremely rare Welrod, not something the range they used could have rented them. And the Welrod is one of quietest firearms ever made.
Subverted in Gunsmith Cats: Burst when Misty customizes a Python revolver to accept a suppressor, only to be chewed out by Rally because (with the weapon being a revolver) the suppressor has no effect.
Averted in Noir, which took actual audio from the guns used and doesn't completely diminish the sound when a silencer is fitted. If anything the sound of the silenced guns is more like a "pew" than a "bang" and it's still fairly loud.
Averted in an episode of Detective Conan where, when confronted by Conan under the stands, the episode's culprit knows that a silencer does not completely mask a gun's noise, but he's in a crowded stadium where everyone around is watching a football match so he can still shoot without attracting unwanted attention.
Played completely straight when a silencer (and a scarf covering the muzzle-flash) lets Pisco fire a gun in a crowded room to bring down a chandelier on his victim without drawing any attention to himself.
In one case, the murderer covered up the sound of gunfire by firing the silenced gun at the same time as party poppers were being set off for a party. Considering someone a floor away from the party but literally an arm's length away from the gun completely failed to notice it, it would still have to be pretty damn quiet.
Gunslinger Girl - In this firearms-heavy anime and manga series, one of the characters, Henrietta carries a Fabrique Nationale P90 as her standard weapon (in a violin case, just to be cute). Later in the storyline she uses it with a silencer (or more properly a suppressor).
Averted in Highschool of the Dead. Hirano hands Saya an MP5, warning her that even with a suppressor, any shots will still be audible enough to be heard by them.
In Black Lagoon during a flashback to Revy's childhood she's shown killing a man eventually revealed to be her own father using a pillow to suppress the sound. Subverted in that we don't actually hear the sound so can't judge how well it worked.
In the Batman story The Long Halloween, the main assassin uses the teats from baby bottles as one-shot silencers. This is apparently somewhat effective with small, low-powered rounds in Real Life.
In The Losers, an evil character comments on how badly silencers throw off your aim.
In A Sad Story, Uncle Vernon uses one on his shotgun. These actually exist, but they serve only to reduce the report of the weapon just enough to eliminate the need for hearing protection; it's clearly audible and identifiable as a gunshot from at least a hundred yards away.
Averted by The Bourne Identity where the Treadstone operative that kills Conklin uses a silenced pistol that sounds rather accurate. Although this is all the more confusing due to the fact that all the other silenced pistols in the movie had used the traditional Coconut sound effect.
Averted in Escape from New York, in which Snake Plissken has a MAC-10 with a colossal silencer and the sound is more like "CHOOM" than "fwip".
It's also worth noting that by the time Snake is captured by the Duke, the silencer is no longer effective, as evidenced by the scene where the Duke toys with the president by shooting around him.
Parodied in Les Tontons Flingueurs, a 1963 French movie. There is a gunfight scene, involving at least half a dozen people, each one wielding a silenced gun making a different sound, including one of a bottle being uncorked. (the scene)
Parodied in Fatal Instinct. When Max Shady test fires his silencer-equipped weapon in the train it makes a soft "fwip" as usual. He adjusts the silencer to "softer" and fires it again: this time it makes no noise at all.
Subverted in Doomsday: The suppressed rifles and silenced pistols make a fairly loud bang, but the main character's unsilenced pistol makes a really loud bang.
Parodied in A Scanner Darkly, when Robert Downey, Jr.'s character creates a home made silencer. When tested, it explodes, amplifying the sound considerably and partially deafening Downey Jr.
The sniper in the movie Shooter uses a bottle as a makeshift silencer for his rifle.
The weapon he uses is a hunting rifle, which is a smaller caliber than the average military sniper rifle. The bottle itself is stuffed with material to help muffle the sound, so the plastic bottle isn't doing the silencing, but rather the combination of paper, tissues, and possibly aluminum and/or water inside the bottle. It's borderline Hollywood Silencer, because the sound would be muffled, but not complete silenced.
It's not that it's a hunting rifle (which can be and generally are the same caliber as their military counterparts), it's that it's a .22LR. .22 rifles are fairly quiet to begin with—more of a loud pop than a boom, and actually quiet enough that it's possible (but not recommended) to shoot one without hearing protection.
Still falls under this trope, though. Swagger manages to fire several silenced shots using bottle taped to the muzzle. And if the bottle was filled with something, he wouldn't have been able to make precisions shots from such a long distance.
The otherwise brilliant movie The Sting features the silenced revolver mistake.
The Boondock Saints have silencers that make a small "fwip" sound, though they are mainly used to keep others from discovering their activities, not for the element of surprise.
The barkeeper in Desperado has a silencer on his revolver that is obviously not even compatible with the weapon. Subverted in that it doesn't actually work.
Payback uses the pillow version of this with a revolver.
In Spy Hard, the trope is parodied: baddies use a pillow to silence the noise of the machine gun used to execute prisoners, who were mimes that "refused" to talk.
Averted in RoboCop (1987); Clarence Boddicker has a fairly large silencer on his pistol when he visits Bob Morton, and it doesn't make the "fwip"; it does what a real silencer does and turns a sharp crack into a dull thud that's still pretty loud.
Semi-averted in Casino Royale. Characters are alerted to a shooter in the next room by the fwip sound. Makes you wonder why the gunman bothered, if they heard him coming any way from the next room over through a shut door.
Another James Bond aversion, in The Man with the Golden Gun the gangster assassin from the opening scene has a silenced weapon, but you wouldn't have guessed based on the noise it makes.
Yet another James Bond aversion in Tomorrow Never Dies: On the stealth ship, Bond's suppressed Walther P99 sounds probably just a little less loud then it would without the suppressor.
Averted, at least in one instance, in Nurse Betty. When one of the hitmen goes to the other room with his silenced pistol into the adjacent room to Betty to commit suicide with the door closed, the "thump" of the gun is loud enough to make Betty jump. Ironically, this is a movie about a person that had trouble separating soap opera characters with real people.
Averted in U.S. Marshals. The Chinese spy Chen fires an assault rifle fitted with a suppressor at Deputy Marshal Sam Gerard at a cemetery. Gerard immediately reacts to the only slightly muffled gunfire, and shouts and screams are heard from funeral attendees away from the action.
McQ. The opening murders of two policeman are committed with a .45 with a ridiculously short silencer. Later a witness is murdered with a silenced revolver. Only the silenced MAC-10 sounds right, but as the Military Armaments Corporation was using this movie to showcase the weapon it's not surprising.
Played to the extreme in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang where in one scene a bad guy has a silenced pistol that makes no gunshot noise at all. Not even 'fwip'! The only noise is that of the ejected cartridge hitting the floor - a sound effect that is normally missing in Hollywood movies.
In the 2009 Sherlock Holmes movie, visitors to 221b Baker Street are startled by the sound of repeated gunshots. It turns out that Holmes is trying to invent a silencer for his Nagant M1895 revolver (see below), and failing miserably.
Con Air - When Nicolas Cage's character stumbles on a betrayal plot, he tells a would-be gunman that if he fires his weapon, others would hear the shot come and investigate. The other man wordlessly replies by attaching a silencer to his pistol, to which Cage delivers the classic line: "Well hoo-ray for the sounds of fucking silence!"
Soylent Green - Charlton Heston's character gets chased by some Mooks packing short-barreled revolvers fitted with silencers. It's handled surprisingly realistically; they emit a sort of dull, booming thump that's far from quiet, but which wouldn't be readily identifiable as gunfire at a distance.
In The A-Team, an incompetent CIA agent attempts to clumsily put one on his gun while his target complains about him calling it a "European silencer" when it is in fact called a suppressor.
In Inception, Cobb's silenced pistol does indeed make the "fwip" sound. However, he's only seen using it in the dream world so it can be assumed that Cobb simply imagined the Hollywood-esque one. Also subverted in that when he uses it, he catches the bodies before they hit the ground as to not attract attention. He also catches the shell casings in midair, nicely accounting for the noise they'd ordinarily make when they hit the ground.
The 1972 French comedy The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe featured several government spies with silenced guns that, when fired, emitted only a puff of smoke with no sound at all.
Parodied in the Polish comedy Kiler, where all gangsters participating in a parking shootout use Hollywood Silencers and the TV reporters filming the whole scene from a distance comment that they will have to mix in gunfire sounds to make the scene more realistic.
The opening of The Siege has the kidnapping of a terrorist leader. A herd of goats are driven across the road in front of a limousine, making it stop. We hear the faint sound of a silenced automatic weapon firing, then the camera pans to show the bullet-riddled car and the terrorist being dragged away by US special forces.
The pistols used by the heroes in The Guns of Navarone use silencers that make the gunshots sound closer to a champagne cork popping. Still somewhat loud, but softer than a non-suppressed pistol.
Averted nicely in The Dresden Files. A hitman uses a silenced .22 (which Harry specifically mentions uses subsonic ammunition) and says that the silencer makes the shots sound like "someone slapping a heavy dictionary against a desk." The gunshots get louder as the silencer begins to give out.
In the first Jumper sequel, Reflex, a silenced pistol shot was described as being similar to someone stepping on a dry twig.
In The Chase, a 19th century bank robber doesn't just silence a revolver- he silences it by wrapping a scarf around the muzzle.
The espionage novel by David Morrell, Brotherhood of the Rose has the protagonists using the 'Mossad homemade silencer'' designed to be constructed from innocuous materials like washers and glassfibers, assembled for the kill, then broken up and thrown away.
Towards the end of Atlas Shrugged, the protagonists infiltrate the State Science Institute to rescue John Galt. They are all equipped with guns which are silenced to the point of not making any sound at all when fired. Not even a single fwip. Then again, the protagonists are a community of "geniuses" that owns all sorts of physically impossible technology, including an entropy reversing motor.
The Godfather II - A young Don Corleone commits his first murder with a revolver wrapped up in a towel to muffle the sound. The towel realistically catches fire due to the muzzle flash.
The towel-as-silencer trick also appears in the Bernard Samson Series by Len Deighton. Someone borrows a revolver from Bernard, then returns it wrapped up in a towel. Which has bullet holes and powder burns in it.
A Hymn Before Battle - In a fairly rare slip-up regarding firearms, author John Ringo has an assassin using a silenced Colt .45, with the sound of the shots described as "four rapid huffs", with no one reacting until the targeted people fall into the Reflecting Pool in front of the Washington Monument.
John Kelly of Without Remorse home-builds a suppressor for his Colt .45, but that requires a full-blown Navy machine shop, several years' of special forces experience, and a caliber conversion kit to bring his Colt down to .22 caliber. He later does the same to a bolt-action .22 rifle after a few techniques for suppressing rifles' noises, too. Another scene from the same novel features a Navy chief building a suppressor for his assault carbine on the Boxwood Green mission: the gunfire could "only" be heard out to a hundred yards, as opposed to several hundred unsuppressed.
Clancy is also at pains to point out that a silencer does not totally silence the guns, but makes the noise carry less far and, in the case of non-automatic weapons, means that anyone not in the know is more likely to mistake it for something else. Also, he points out that no silencer can stop the occasionally rather loud mechanical noise of the gun cycling, which, thanks to Hollywood, people don't mistake for harmless noise.
Played completely straight at least in Dead or Alive where a special forces operative uses a silenced sidearm to quickly dispatch six insurgents sleeping in a small cave. None of them wake up in the process.
In The Professional Killers by J.T. Edson, one of the killers uses a silenced revolver. This is an odd slip-up from Edson who was usually meticulous in his firearms research.
Live Action TV
An episode of Sanctuary averts the trope, showing suppressed pistols as making 'pop pop' noises. It goes even further, making the characters put their hands over their ears when shooting off a lock in an enclosed space with the same pistols.
Law & Order: An episode had an improvised silencer made by taping an empty two liter of soda to the front of a pistol. No one in the building was able to hear the gun shots.
An episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent had an aversion of this trope as a plot point. The victim was killed with a gun fired through a potato (with the intent of silencing it), which Goren noted wouldn't work. When the same MO shows up later, the fact that the killer didn't realise it didn't work the first time (along with the fact he panicked and killed the victim even though she couldn't call for help) proves that they were deaf.
An episode featured a coke bottle silencer. Another had a potato silencer. While neither would work for more than a few shots, the Coke bottle would be more effective after the first, having a much greater surface-to-volume ratio.
Another episode had a potato was used for two gunshots, and it worked. Not because it actually silenced the shot, but because the target is deaf.
An episode of CSI: New York had a teddy bear used as a silencer for a large Desert Eagle pistol.
Inverted on Sledge Hammer!, where the title character uses a loudener in one episode. As if his .44 Magnum wasn't loud enough already. Amusingly enough, devices that increase the loudness, or at least direct more of the sound back at the user, do exist; they're called "muzzle brakes," and their main purpose is to reduce recoil.
Averted in Chuck. Guns with silencers still make noise, and it's more of a realistic 'crack' than it is a 'thwip', and at one point was shown to be audible through a flight of stairs and a closed door. Played straight in other parts of Chuck, most notably when Casey practices shooting pictures of bin Laden and Hitler with a silenced gun inside his own apartment.
An episode features a villain using a silencer on a cannon.
In another episode Smart had to make a call on his Shoe Phone during a gun battle, but the operator could not work because his gun was too loud, forcing him to install his silencer.
More prosaically (and not for comedic purposes), "silenced revolvers" are used frequently on the show.
The second season finale of Sons of Anarchy employs this when Jax shoots A.J. Weston in the tattoo parlor.
Averted indirectly in Castle, in which the detectives work out that in order to murder a man in the middle of Grand Central Station without being heard, a killer must have not only used a silencer, but also waited until a train was passing. And despite these precautions, someone still heard him.
Subverted in the season three finale of Breaking Bad, where Mike uses a gun with a silencer to murder several cartel members selling meth on Gus's territory without permission. Only... the gun is far from silent.
Though a lack of a gun blast is played straight, the casings hitting the wall/floor and the operation of the pistol are clearly heard.
Even though it abandons many other ridiculous tropes in favour of realism; The Wire chooses to play this straight with Chris and Snoop.
MythBusters tested the Hollywood silencer, and found that while it didn't make the classic film "thwip" sound, they did lower the volume considerably, into more of a thud of similar volume, and declared it "Plausible."
One episode of Columbo featured a silenced revolver.
Averted in the second episode of Alcatraz; Cobb uses a sniper rifle fitted with what appears to be a silencer, but it still makes a fairly loud noise when he fires it.
In possibly one of the worst offenses ever, during the second season of Prison Break, an assassin from The Company is sent after Lincoln Burrows and his family. The assassin breaks in and shoots one of Lincoln's father's bodyguards with a silenced pistol. No one could hear the gunshot (or the body hitting the floor), but apparently Lincoln's ears are so good that he could hear the shell hitting the floor from the other side of the (huge) house instead of the gunshot.
In Better Off Ted, Veronica keeps a silenced pistol in her office for stress relief that when fired makes a light *Thwip* sound. It is implied that she does this frequently without anyone noticing.
The first season of JAG had these in several episodes, including "Brig Break" and "Hemlock".
The third season of The Walking Dead gives several characters homemade suppressors constructed from flashlights and baseball bats. The shows makes them seem pretty effective.
An episode of The Green Hornet called "The Silent Gun" featured...a silent gun. When fired, the gun made practically no noise. It's explained in the story that the pistol was an experimental wartime model, fired very small caliber rounds, and was only effective at close range.
Called a cinematic silencer in GURPS: High-Tech; they're three times as effective as the real versions.
Shadowrun has silencers, but notes that subsonic ammunition is necessary to make them really effective (else the sonic boom will alert someone).
Played with, given that one of the options in some Warhammer 40,000Space Marine armies is to turn a boltgun into a sniper equivalent partly by extending the barrel and stock but mostly by the dint of using special "Stalker" ammunition which is gas propelled rather than the standard rocket propelled rounds, and has a "solidified mercury slug" to punch through the target rather than having a mass-reactive warhead tip. The gun modifications make the gun capable of longer ranges, but the switch in ammunition to one that doesn't ignite a rocket engine behind the bullet just after firing is what silences the gun.
The Technocracy in Mage: The Ascension have magical versions of these, which work, not by muffling the sound of the gunshot, but instead by teleporting the sound somewhere else (usually a dangerous part of town where no one cares). The rules specifically note that these devices are considered "coincidental" magic (meaning they can be used without penalty in front of Muggles), because people expect silencers to work better than they really do.
Within the Law by Bayard Veiller features a revolver that can fire absolutely noiselessly, using smokeless powder and a Maxim silencer. Probably the Trope Maker for silenced revolvers, though this one is explained to be a specially made weapon.
Zigzagged in the Call of Duty games that allow you to attach suppressors to weapons; in singleplayer all silenced guns make the typical quiet "Fwip" sound which enemy NPCs will dutifully ignore, though they will still notice if the bullet impacts an object near them, hits them nonfatally, or takes out one of their allies within their field of vision. The shots are still clearly audible to a human player in multiplayer so long as all the other guns and explosions don't drown it out, however; the only concrete advantage to putting a suppressor on a weapon there is that you won't appear on the enemy's minimap when firing it, though the weapon's damage at range is also reduced.
In Modern Warfare 2, three weapons do appear on the radar in multiplayer even with a suppressor (the M9, MG4, and M240). However, this is due to either a glitch or the programmers missing the issue (other similar issues exist, such as some weapons' sights not lining up correctly), NOT an intended feature.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 features an enormous revolver that fires 28 gauge shotgun shells - and despite both of those things, you can attach a suppressor to it.
Averted in Deus Ex where close proximity to an enemy makes your stealth pistol audible. Very noticeable in the "Rescue Tiffany" mission. Tiffany is typically toast.
Further averted in Human Revolution, as even silenced weapons generally take a good distance or a wall to keep from alerting enemies, and you cannot put a silencer on the revolver.
In the N64 GoldenEye, no guards would respond to silenced gun fire no matter how close they were to you. Amusingly enough, the guards wouldn't even respond to other guards firing their weapons at you, which often included incredibly loud assault rifles and submachine guns. Apparently, invading superspies intruding into the base is such a common occurrence that the guards can only be bothered dealing with it when they actually see the intruder.
Note also that a single tap of the trigger is apparently inaudible too. They could only notice multiple gunshots; a single shot from any weapon (with the possible exception of the shotguns, which fired multiple projectiles per trigger pull) would count as totally stealthy no matter how loud the weapon itself, provided no enemy saw the shot impact.
Perfect Dark did this a bit differently. Guards would notice if you fired the gun, so long as you were close enough or fired it multiple times. "Close enough", however, generally means "same room". This got complicated in more open levels, where enemies would either be able to hear you from the other end of the map, or arbitrary sound cutoffs would stop enemies hearing you ten feet away in one direction but not thirty feet away in another.
In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas one weapon is a 'silenced' pistol. Using it in a crowded scene does not trigger a pedestrian panic (then again, pedestrians don't seem to panic when you're just lugging around an assault rifle in the open). You might even get away with a few shots. But when the target keels over dead, that's when the screaming begins.
In Jagged Alliance 2, pistol silencers (changed to suppressors in the fan-made v1.13) will still attract attention from nearby guards, both near you and near the guard you shot. The real "silent" option is hurling a throwing knife at unaware guards' backs and necks, though even that can alert nearby guards if they see the body fall...though if they move away before the kill and return after, they won't notice a thing. Kinda weird, that. v1.13 also introduces a wealth of new "silent" weapons, mostly the subsonic variety like the AS-VAL assault rifle and VSSK Vychlop sniper rifle, as well as suppressors for assault and sniper rifles. Using suppressors are fairly useless unless you buy specially-made "cold-loaded" subsonic ammo.
The Metal Gear games get this almost right: Starting with Metal Gear Solid, the suppressed weapons make a more realistic "puff" or "crack" sound (the silenced tranquilizer pistol makes more of a "fwip" noise because of its subsonic ammunition), and from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater onwards the suppressors wear out (apart from some weapons where the suppressors are a part of the gun itself) and can throw off your aim quite a bit - but you can still fire them inches away from a sentry's head and they won't hear a thing (except on harder difficulties in later games, and they will also hear bullets and darts ricocheting off nearby surfaces). This of course only applies to non-human opponents: Players in Metal Gear Online can hear suppressed gunshots just fine if they're alert enough.
The series, from Metal Gear Solid 2 onward, also realistically depicts how a silenced weapon would actually need to be set up to work properly: the tranquilizer gun has the slide lock after every shot. In real life, a properly silenced pistol would have the shot be quieter than the action of the pistol itself (the metallic clack of the slide moving back and forth), so the slide has to be locked to prevent it from working (not that the tranquilizer bullets have the explosive force to work the slide on their own anyway, but that's a different story). Hence the single-shot nature of the gun.
Red Faction 2 has a silenced SMG which seems to the player to be only slightly quieter than the pistol. It also seems to be useless, however, since the majority of the game involves head-on attacks with no need for stealth - and given the insane firing rate of the SMG (which releases a five-round burst with a single tap of the Fire button), it seems difficult to believe that any guard would have difficulty locating the shooter if that guard had the ceaseless muffled coughs of a silenced SMG to go off.
Notable aversion: In Resident Evil 4's "Mercenaries" minigame, Albert Wesker packs a pistol with a silencer (the only one of its kind in the entire game). Rather than the stereotypical "pyoo" sound, there is instead the sound of the gun's mechanism cycling and a barely-audible pop, making it one of the more realistic silenced guns sounds of recent.
In Rainbow Six: Vegas and its sequel, your character apparently has a Hyperspace Arsenal full of silencers that will fit onto the barrels of pretty much any pistol, submachine gun, or assault rifle. You can't silence the heavier pistols, however, and with the exception of the integrally-suppressed SR-25, none of the shotguns, LMGs or sniper rifles can be suppressed either. Your allies also avoid the hyperspace arsenal bit by just switching from their standard assault rifle and machine gun to suppressed MP7's when you tell them to go silent.
In Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield, almost any gun could be fitted with a silencer, but they all averted this trope. Damage and range were decreased by the use of subsonic ammunition, and nearby enemies could still hear them.
The original game had silenced versions available for all pistols, as well as a silenced MP5.
In Postal 2 you could grab cats, put the end of the gun in their ass, and shoot the gun with the characteristic "fwip" silenced noise, accompanied with a progressively-higher-pitched meow from the cat until it eventually flies off the end of the barrel and dies. Do remember that nothing in that game is supposed to be taken seriously. This was also done in the Postal movie. The cat was fine too.
The Hitman series tends to play this straight, with optional silencers on pistols, rifles and submachine guns turning the noise into the usual 'thwip' without degrading weapon performance- though you can use less effective silencers that only limit the sound instead of removing it.
Blood Money offers accessorizing 47's custom guns with a "Type 1" silencer, which works best with whatever low-velocity ammo is offered for the gun (and even then, is noisy), or the "Type 2," which had full Hollywood effectiveness even for "Magnum" ammo. You can even fit your shotgun or assault rifle with the "Type 2" model, though there's little point in that because the second you're seen carrying one enemies go on high alert.
Silent Assassin had five suppressed weapons, each with a suitably A.K.A.-47-ish name. Of them, the Baller SD was massively overpowered, the SMG-SD6 was fairly useful for mook-sweeping due to having the highest magazine capacity among suppressed weapons, the .22 SD was so weak that sometimes not even a headshot was fatal and the Custom Rifle (custom-modified Walther WA2000) was audible for at least 20 meters. As for the 9mm SD, it was probably the most useful weapon in the whole game due to having nice damage, very high magazine capacity (15 bullets), easy concealability and plentiful ammo (guards always carry either this or an assault rifle).
Hitman's Russian World War II cousin Death to Spies features silenced Nagant revolvers extensively, all of them producing a muffled sound similar to "fwip", but reasonably loud. It can alert nearby guards, especially on higher difficulty settings. Silenced rifles in the game are generally more guilty of this trope. For the silenced Nagant revolver, take a look at the Real Life section.
Far Cry 2 has the Dart Rifle. The Sniper Rifle thwipping puts enemies on alert without revealing your exact location, unless the round goes whizzing past someone's head, in which case they will immediately find you, the Silenced MP5 is only slightly quieter than without silencer, however the same basic detection rules as with the Dart Rifle seem to apply. The Silenced Makarov 6P9 is complete with thwip, and has same rules for stealth.
Far Cry 3 plays the trope very straight, allowing hollywood silencers on almost every weapon with no apparent downsides.
In the original three games, the "SC Pistol" (an FN Five-seveN) has a suppressor that is (semi-)realistically (in)effective. Most enemies will notice the suppressed sound, unless they are standing very far away, or the sound is drowned out by heavy machinery.
Conviction went the other direction: suppressed weapons are impossible for enemies to hear, even that suppressed fully automatic assault rifle you're firing from five feet away. However, if you're shooting more than two bullets from anything, you're going to be spotted unless you kill the targets you're shooting at. Taken to fully ridiculous levels when, through pre-order bonuses, you can acquire a suppressed SPAS-12 semi-automatic shotgun, and still retain the shotgun qualities of the weapon (bullet spread, etc.).
Partially averted in Ghost Recon in which suppressed weapons have realistic sounds but are inaudible from more than a few feet away.
Future Soldier changes the rules for sound detection around, where if you use a silenced weapon to shoot someone, if you kill them in one shot and none of his buddies see the body drop or end up passing by it later, they won't notice. If you don't make that one-shot kill, though, you're generally going to get detected - if you missed, he'll notice you and try to alert his comrades. Take more than one bullet to kill him and his buddies will hear something and investigate, at which point they're likely going to notice the body, unless you can kill them before that without anyone else seeing.
Averted in Shadowrun for the Sega Genesis, the silencer only gives the benefit of not setting off the alarms when you fire your weapons inside corporate offices. Every NPC will still hear you firing your gun regardless of being equipped with a silencer or not.
Halo 3: ODST features the M7S and the M6C/SOCOM, a sound suppressed sub-machine gun and pistol (respectively). They do not sound realistic and Bungie attests that they simply followed the Rule of Cool, seen in this video. While the actual gun noises are just The Coconut Effect the enemies reactions to the firing of a silenced weapon is realistic. Especially on legendary the enemies are still very likely to notice you even if you shoot with a silenced weapon.
Funnily enough, the Behind-The-Scenes video released before ODST revealed they actually made the guns sound louder than usual.
Played straight in Battlefield: Bad Company 2 — The two silenced semi-auto sniper rifles are completely silent, even if an enemy player is right next to you, and you fire past them, they can't tell where it is coming from until you hit them. The silencers on the submachine guns are fwippy, too. The gunshot sounds in that game are generally pretty accurate with echo and resonance, too.
Taken to parodying lengths with the DICE-only weapons in Battlefield 3. One of them is a .44 Magnum - a revolver, mind - with a silencer that actually works.
Medal of Honor plays realistic takes on this one on-and-off: the first game has the silencer reducing the sound to a rather realistic muffled bang, whereas Allied Assault has a hand-loaded silenced pistol where all the sound comes from the mechanism. Either way, shooting it will cause any nearby Nazis to notice.
Stalker has the famous VSS Vintorez sniper rifle and AS Val assault rifle that use special subsonic cartridges and a highly effective integral suppressor — it gives a report similar to a BB-gun as well as a metallic clank from the action.
A large number of the weapons in the series can have a silencer attached (and any silencer you find will fit any weapon that can take one - removing one from a dead person's pistol and attaching it to your AK is fair game), rendering your gunshots inaudible within a decent radius and letting you get the drop on a group of enemies, but with rifles the sound isn't the Hollywood-style fwip but simply a muffled version of the regular gunfire. On the other hand, the Vintorez is apparently so quiet that if you're far enough away, it's possible that the guy you're shooting at won't realize he's being shot, letting you pick off a group of guys one at a time. The gun is pushed into Difficult but Awesome by an exaggerated version of real-life bullet drop, noted as being due to the ammo's subsonic nature but absent with virtually every other weapon, even ones that use the exact same ammo.
Another Ukrainian video game, Metro 2033 features a successor of the above Vintorez and Val, the VSK-94 silenced sniper rifle.
Metro 2033 also has the option to buy suppressed versions of standard weapons, and these behave more or less realistically. They don't outright give away the character's presence the way an unsuppressed weapon would, but nearby foes will notice the noise and start actively looking for the player if they were previously idle or patrolling.
However, the game also features a suppressed revolver which draws a similar level of attention.
Fallout: New Vegas plays this trope straight with one exception—-the Anti-Materiel Rifle variant added in the Gun Runners Arsenal DLC can be suppressed (essentially) but not silenced. Since, after all, it is a .50-caliber sniper rifle which is referred to as a cannon by more than one NPC. The effect is distance-based, as in firing it in someone's ear is quite different from firing it at the limit of the draw distance.
Oddly enough some of the silenced guns actually sound completely accurate, but NPCs will still ignore the rather loud sounding shot.
It also averts this in one other case: a Varmint Rifle with the suppressor modification will be ignored by enemies other than the one you shoot (if he survives or you miss by a small enough margin), but the unique Ratslayer variant, which comes with the same modification, will alert enemies near your target. This is technically a bug, although it does make sense anyway - the Ratslayer is coded to remove body parts with killing shots (the Varmint Rifle is not), which would naturally be louder and more suspicious than someone just dropping normally. Then again, the larger-caliber sniper rifle can also accept a suppressor, will also lop off body parts with killing shots, but is still ignored by enemies near your target.
Saints Row: The Third includes suppressors as an upgrade for some of its weapons, which make it harder for unaware enemies to tell where you're shooting from. Likely in reference to Red Faction above (sharing the same developer), the suppressors actually make the weapons they attach to more accurate and powerful, without any explanation.
The tutorial voice-over in No One Lives Forever says that "silence is a relative term when it comes to guns". The silencer still makes guns pretty damn quiet for stealth purposes.
Counter-Strike averts this. Silenced guns are still very loud. Silencers are only used to mask the direction from where the gun was fired, and prevents the shooter from appearing on the radar.
Some video games, likely due to not enough attention paid, actually invert this - Half-Life, for instance, features an integrally suppressed MP5 which neither sounds like or is treated as though it is suppressednote Its first-person model is suppressed, at least - the third-person model is not..
Played straight in Crysis 2 where a silencer can reduce the sound of a large pistol to a tiny click. Enemies are still alerted by this sound, though; the main benefit comes from not breaking out of stealth mode. Amusingly, the silencer works just as well when placed at the end of the shotgun.
Sniper Elite V2 features the Welrod pistol, with its integral suppressor, which makes the classic "cat sneeze" sound when fired. Enemies do hear you miss them, though. This is a little more acceptable than most examples — the real Welrod was designed to be as quiet as possible, and is about as "silent" as guns get (which, understand, is still not very silent at all).
The "Citadel" DLC for Mass Effect 3 adds a heavy pistol that features an integrated suppressor. How the M-11 silences itself is somewhat of a mystery considering that guns in Mass Effect don't use chemical explosives (real suppressors work by allowing propellant gases to expand differently), but accelerate rounds with gravity fields instead.
The Saboteur plays this very straight with two weapons in the game. A silenced pistol that resembles a Walter PPK (like James Bond used in his early missions), and a "Viper" sub-machine gun that seems to have a built in silencer. Both weapons can be used to absolute stealth as long as no Nazi sees you firing it. Bodies dropping do cause panic and soldiers to investigate the area, but after they conclude they can't find anyone nearby, they resume normal operations and you can use the same tactic again to very useful effect. Civilians never react. Even if you are killing civilians... with loud guns! Tho Nazi's are going to react to both if they see/hear it.
Even more ridiculous (and awesome) is shooting someone through a metal grated floor from below. Nazi's apparently cannot see through the floor so you can end up killing one guard right next to another and they will not call for reinforcements right away (until they investigate the body).
The first Syphon Filter trilogy use chirping silenced weapons, but the later games have more realistic-sounding suppressors that close-enough enemies can hear.
Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura did it realistically. There is exactly one silenced firearm in the game and it is soundless, but that firearm is a custom-made, purpose-built gun with an integrated silencer.
Zig-zagged in PlanetSide 2. Silencers, for the most part, simply change the noise of a gun to something less distinct along with the added benefit of silenced weapons not showing up as blips on the Enemy Detecting Radar. However, some guns lose almost all of their noise - the Terran Republic's TRAP-M1 scout rifle is almost totally silent when fired, except for clicking of the burst fire mechanism
The video description jokes "This is a sneaking mission where I infiltrated a Deaf Person's Warehouse."
Special focus is also given to removing a silencer so Freddie's gunshot will be heard in Claymores.
Averted in the Men In Black cartoon where J eventually gets a silencer for his Noisy Cricket. Its purpose is actually to cut down the blaster's massive recoil. (It's also kind of a play on the gun's name, putting a silencer on the Noisy Cricket.)
Honorable mention: One Rocky and Bullwinkle plot revolved around "Hushaboom", a silent high explosive.
One episode makes light of the trope. Marge finds that a bottle of pre-made pancake mix makes flatulence noises and attaches a silencer to the nozzle, changing it to the trademark "phut" sound.
Another example in the episode where Homer buys a gun, specifically a revolver, as the salesman informs him about the various accessories on offer.
Gun Shop Owner: Silencer... Homer: Mmm-hmm. Gun Shop Owner: Loudener... Homer:[drools] Gun Shop Owner: And this is for shooting down police helicopters. Homer: Oh, I don't need one of those... yet.
"Who Shot Mr. Burns?" included a TV special called Springfield's Most Wanted, hosted by John Walsh of America's Most Wanted. While listing suspects, Walsh says that "[Principal] Skinner had a silencer, yet the gun was clearly audible during the shooting," meant to imply that this dismissed Skinner as the culprit.
Inexplicably, Family Guy played this trope straight and then averted it in the same episode. A silenced pistol is so quiet that nobody even notices anything until blood starts spreading on Stephanie's dress. Later, Diane Simmons is about to kill Lois (with an unsilenced weapon), you hear a bang, Diane drops dead, and Stewie is seen with a smoking sniper rifle, which clearly has a silencer. Interestingly, the guns work exactly as they need to for each scene to work.
The played straight example can be argued. The silenced pistol was fired at the same time that Brian popped the cork on a champagne bottle, and given that every pistol that ever shows up in this series is drawn exactly the same, there's no telling whether the bullet was even supersonic or not. So it is possible that the gunshot was either covered up by or mistaken for the pop of the cork.
Real Life Notes
It is entirely possible to create a truly "silent" weapon, but the major performance tradeoffs required tend to make them rare in Real Life. Requirements include: a purpose built internally-suppressed designnote Screw-on "muzzle cans" aren't efficient enough, lower-powered subsonic ammonote Supersonic bullets produce the "crack" of a mini sonic boom, and a single-shot or bolt-actionnote Semi-autos produce noise as the bolt forcefully clacks back and forth. This leaves the sound of the bullet striking the target as the only audible product. What you tend to end up with is a cumbersome, low-powered, short-ranged rifle with a very low rate of fire: real (as the examples below indicate), but of limited usefulness and not exactly Hollywood material. Most people who have a need to lower their weapon's sound signature these days typically straddle a line between "totally silent but slow and short-ranged" and "totally noisy but powerful and long ranged".
The most important thing is not silencing the weapon to a fwip, but changing the noise to less resemble the sound of actual gunfire. Once the supersonic *crack* is dispensed with by using subsonic ammo, a suppressor's primary benefit is in making it harder to identify or locate the noise it does produce. In a noisy urban environment, cars and heavy trucks running around, people talking or shouting, TV sets adding to the noise, a muted *pop* goes unnoticed as long as witnesses can mentally dismiss it as some common, incidental noise: somebody dropping an object, a door closing, etc.
This trope may have sent some people to prison since there have been cases of killers convicted by trace evidence of improvised silencers they wrongly assumed they needed — possibly by exposure to too many movies. Real hitmen do not often use silencers, as they affect accuracy and are just one more item to be disposed of after the deed that can be potentially traced back to them.
Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber, seems to have been a victim of this trope. In a diary, he expressed disappointment that his homemade silencer only reduced the noise of a pistol to about one-third. If this is so, then his homemade silencer actually worked pretty well.
Real Life Silenced Weapons
One of the few designs that has enough features to be fairly called "silent" is the .45ACP British DeLisle Carbine of WWII, which featured a bolt-action and a barrel that was basically a single huge suppressor. The heavy, subsonic .45ACP round was a good choice for a suppressed caliber, and the only sounds produced by firing would be the miniscule *click* of the trigger dropping the hammer, followed by whatever sound the bullet made hitting the target. If a fast follow-up shot was not necessary, the bolt-action could be slowly and carefully operated in such a way that it produced no real noise. Unfortunately, the trade off was in practical usefulness; the DeLisle was great for eliminating lone sentries (if you were close enough to attempt a headshot), but silently dropping a guy within eye or earshot of his friends would ensure you'd only get off one round before his buddies raised the alarm, and the DeLisle was definitely not a weapon you'd want to be carrying once anybody started shooting back at you.
The Heckler & Koch MP5SD submachine gun has been the gold standard for Western made suppressed weapons since the 1980s. It uses a highly effective internal suppressor system that reduces the report of the normally-supersonic 9mm round to virtually nothing while also slowing it down (via a series of internal rubber "wipes") to subsonic levels; unfortunately, it's also fully-automatic, and thus produces a distinctive "chattering" noise akin to a typewriter that reinforces the idea that you can't make a truly silent automatic weapon. The rubber wipe system also means you can't use anything other than full-power 9mm in it, and the whole system needs to be sent back to the factory for refurbishment every 500 rounds. Lastly, it's less accurate, less powerful and shorter ranged than the normal MP5.
The now rather famous VSS Vintorez sniper rifle uses other special purpose cartridges, the 9mm SP-5 and SP-6 (AP). The rifle has a highly effective integral suppressor similar in concept to the MP5SD. Combined with steel-core, low-velocity rounds, it is both capable of penetrating military-grade body armor and is silent enough to make its operation the loudest part of the report. But, owing to the semi-automatic action, it is still not "Hollywood Silent", and gives a report similar to a BB gun as well as a metallic clank as the bolt moves forward and back.
The double-barreled MSP and self-loading PSS are small concealed-carry pistols designed around the SP-3 and SP-4 cartridge. These rounds do not let the gases escape the shell casing at all (a short-stroke piston pushes the bullet out, containing the pressure). The PSS was also designed to lower cycling noise with a sophisticated mechanical recoil dampener. This results in (supposedly) perfect Hollywood Silencer effect (and makes ejected shell casings a hazard for handling). The MSP is undoubtedly the more "silent" of the two, but must be reloaded manually after every shot, and both the MSP and PSS suffer from reduced range and accuracy compared to normal military pistol calibers.
Here is a video of the PSS, "developed for special personnel of the Soviet KGB, as well as for elite elements of the Spetsnaz of the Soviet Army."
PBS-1, the sound suppressor for Kalashnikov AKM assault rifle, used together with subsonic 7,62x39mm ammo, suppress sound of shot effectively enough. Can be seen and heard here.
Real Life Silenced Revolvers
There are a couple of revolver designs that have a sealed cylinder. The most famous is the Nagant M1895 (see guns.ru and Wikipedia). Note that you don't see many followers: this solution made the Nagant Awesome, but Impractical with its slow reload and lack of traditional revolver advantages due to its complicated mechanism and relatively weak cartridge. Revolvers with this design, or similar, can be suppressed. Check it out here. Note that most Hollywood-silenced revolvers are not these models, however.
A less well-known example is the Knight's Armament Revolver Rifle: a Ruger Super Redhawk modified with a suppressed barrel and firing specialized .30-caliber bullets.
An extremely rare example is the Smith & Wesson / AAI Quiet Special Purpose Revolver (QSPR), also called the "tunnel revolver." Designed for use by "tunnel rats" - soldiers of small stature who squeezed into Viet Cong tunnels - the QSPR is a heavily modified .44 Magnum. The QSPR was modified by S&W into a short-barreled, smooth-bore weapon in order to fire AAI's custom .40 caliber QSPR rounds. It was basically a .40-caliber shotgun, with each round filled with 15 small tungsten balls. It was only lethal out to about 30 feet, which was sufficient for the cramped tunnels, and was about as loud as a traditionally-suppressed .22 pistol. It also had no sights, since it was meant to be used at point-blank range. Not many were made; somewhere between 25 and 250. In this case, the suppressor was added not for covert purposes, but in order to avoid destroying the firer's eardrums when discharged in such a cramped environment.
Some specials operations forces still use crossbows in limited roles because they are almost totally silent. Of course, they have all the problems that one would expect of a silent weapon: low power and low rate of fire. They compensate somewhat for the former by having ammunition with sharpened points, which improves penetration.